As important as emerging platforms and digital marketing are to the future of all the prestige industries our reports measure, site remains the cornerstone of most brands’ digital strategy. For Hotels, where user purchases are generally made only after significant deliberation, this is particularly true. Reflected in the methodology of this year’s Digital IQ Index: Hotels study, brands’ sites (which includes tablet experience) were weighted 4x that of social media properties and double that of mobile efforts. In short, for a brand to perform well in this study, their site needed to be highly functional and highly intuitive to the needs of today’s traveler.

 

Today, almost two-thirds of travelers book their hotel reservations online, either through a travel booking site like Kayak or Expedia, or via a hotel’s own domain. As previously mentioned, hotel stays are generally well-researched purchases–in our research, we found that 88 percent of travelers shopped around on the web and more than 60 percent consulted travel reviews before selecting a room. Not surprisingly, on-site user ratings and reviews are becoming more ubiquitous; in this year’s report, we found that 28 percent of brand sites included these, up from 17 percent last year.

 

Despite its effectiveness, live chat has failed to become a top priority for most hotel brands. At present, less than one-quarter of the 57 brands in our study support the feature, which is actually a two percent decrease from our 2012 report. Early adopter Omni Hotels, which implemented live chat back in 2010, has seen a big uptick in its conversion rate as a result, from 3 percent for site visitors who did not engage in live chat to 18 percent for those who did. Overall, we found that users register 39 percent more page views and remain on a hotel’s site 27 percent longer when live chat is an option.

 

For some additional Hotel site functionality figures, consult the graphic below (click for more detail):

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